Good intentions are the intentions of the good. Yet, we know the old saying, “Hell is paved with good intentions”.
Within the pages of the Bible, there are many examples of good intentions that brought the wrath of God upon the one intending good. This is true in many cases because the good intentions come from personal desires.
In Acts 5:1 we read of the good intentions of a husband and wife, “But a certain man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,.. .” Their intentions were good. They, like the other disciples who sold the property and gave the proceeds to the church, were intent on selling their property and doing likewise.
However, once the money was in hand, their good intention became a temptation; “and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet.” (Acts 5:2)
Their good intentions turned deadly. Peter rebuked Ananias for lying to God, and in the same moment, Ananias’ good intention cost him his life. “And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came upon all who heard of it” (Acts 5:5)
Was it the evil of good intentions that cost Nadab and Abihu their lives? What caused these priests of God to disobey God? Was it the same “good intentions” that many are falling prey to today, “As long as I do it with good intentions God will accept what I do for Him.”
Good intentions cannot replace simple obedience from faith. Let’s stop and consider certain passages before we take comfort in our “good intentions.” One of the more famous men of “good intentions” was Uzzah. The result of Uzzah’s good intentions is seen in 2nd Samuel 6:6. Though it was not his idea to transport the ark of God in an inappropriate manner, the wrong still cost him dearly. Often times the innocent pay for someone else’s disobedience. This is not a matter of fairness, just reality!
Uzzah’s good intention was in reality disobedience. This is the outcome when error is perpetuated, even in the name of good intentions. In 2nd Samuel 6:6 we are told, “When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled.”
In Numbers 1:51 the people were told that the Levites were to take the tabernacle down and to set it up. They were told that a layman who came near would be put to death. In Numbers 4:1 the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron concerning the responsibility for the tabernacle and its furnishings.
Aaron and his sons were to cover the furnishings and the house of Kohath was to transport the furnishings. In Numbers 4:15 the Lord stated that Aaron and his sons must cover the holy objects and furnishings of the sanctuary so the sons of Kohath would not touch the holy objects and furnishings and die.
When God gave the instructions concerning the holy objects of the tabernacle, these instructions were not mere suggestions, they were the unalterable commands of God. Any violation of these instructions was viewed by God disobedience. Thus, when Uzzah, with his good intention of protecting the ark, touched the ark; God maintained His righteousness and kept His word concerning the ramifications for the one who violated His commands concerning the holy objects.
One need only to listen to the words of King David to understand that good intention does not justify error. David condemned the priests and Levites for their lack of knowledge concerning their responsibilities in moving the holy objects. In 1st Chronicles 15:13 King David said to them, “Because you did not carry it at first, the Lord our God made an outburst on us, for we did not seek Him according to the ordinance.”
Once the priests and Levites studied the Word of God the sons of Levite carried the ark of God on their shoulders, with poles thereon as Moses had commanded (1st Chron. 15:15).
Hosea said of God’s people, “My people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge…” (Hos 4:6). Such a lack of knowledge caused the destruction of Uzzah, Nadab and Abihu, even the nation of Israel. Good intentions can never replace knowledge and obedience. God did not tolerate ignorance among His people because He gave them His commandments with the understanding they were to live by and obey His commandments (Ex. 19:5).
During the Mosaic dispensation, God tolerated much ignorance from the Gentiles because they did not have His laws, but no longer. With the coming of the New Covenant and the command to make disciples of all people, ignorance is no longer an excuse. Paul said of God, “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent,…” (Acts 17:30).
So often ignorance of God’s Word promotes error. Yet the ramifications are not considered because many justify various beliefs and practices with the security of sincerity and “good intentions.”
Satan has propagated one of the greatest lies in the religious world today, “Doctrine is not that important, all you need to do is believe in God and love Him.” Thus, religious (manmade) doctrines have divided the body of believers and “good intentions” have eased the conscience concerning the division.
Even the word “denomination” no longer carries the connotation of what it means to be “denominated”—to divide and name. Denominationalism stands diametrically opposed to Jesus’ prayer (Jn 17) and Paul’s description of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:1-6). John wrote His first epistle (1st John) in response to erroneous teachings (doctrines).
Today various doctrines are taught under the umbrella of “good intentions” and many are none the wiser that error is still error and Hosea 4:6 is still true. Listen to the Shepherd’s voice–Truth, knowledge, and obedience—It’s His Way or no way.